How to Survive a Panic Attack
Guest Contributor: Zachary Mountain
Panic attacks are very sudden intense waves of fear that can be triggered by certain events (I.e.: overhearing a conversation) or they can happen with no real cause to them. Panic attacks are hard to calm yourself out of without knowing some effective ways to stop them.
This is because panic attacks hit very hard and will most likely send the person experiencing it into panic mode. However, panic attacks come and go. It’s important to remember this for during panic attacks the person having it might have the thought of “I’ll never stop feeling this way” but eventually it will pass.
Look at it this way: Panic attacks are like rain clouds.
They come, sometimes bigger and sometimes smaller; sometimes they stay longer and sometimes they’re short, but they always pass into sunshine.
There are some very important things to do during a panic attack, so that you can get through them and calm yourself down. Here are some good ones that work for me.
This is a very effective way to calm yourself during a panic attack. Breathing in and out and focusing on it. This helps by turning the body’s attention to the breathing, focusing on breathing in and out.
At first deep breathing is hard to do, which might sound silly but remember that during a panic attack, it’s harder for the person to focus on one thing and calm themselves down.
But with some practice, deep breathing can really help during a panic attack, and if your mind starts to wander back to panic mode (of which is completely normal) pull it back and focus again on deep breathing.
Talking with someone
Often people who are having panic attacks either try to stay by themselves and avoid any contact with anyone else, or try to pretend like everything is fine.
However, talking with someone you trust when you having a panic attack, and explaining what’s wrong, and just being around other people in general, can make the person no longer feel alone and the panic attack will go away quicker. Additionally, it might also help you get to the bottom of what caused the panic attack while talking with others. These people would include family members, friends, therapists, and in general, people of whom you trust in general.
This ties into deep breathing as well, but the reason panic attacks stay for a long period of time is that the person having them cannot stop thinking about them, and one of the best things you can do is to distract yourself from that fear.
This could be something as small as looking out of a window and counting how many cars drive by, reading a book, watching TV, drawing, etc.
Distractions work because it requires the person to focus on something other than the fear, and if the mind starts to wander back, make sure to gently make it come back to whatever activity you’re doing.
Going back to the thought of “I’ll never feel better again”.
This is something that someone having a panic attack would have on loop in their mind, trying to convince themselves that they won’t get through it.
This can also be something like “I’ll never get a good sleep” or “I’m a failure”. Thinking these over and over in your mind will make the person convince themselves of these things, however, the same can be said about thinking good things instead.
Replace “I’ll never get through this” with, “I will get through this, I am going to feel better again.” Tell yourself instead, that you will get through this instead of trying to convince yourself that you never will.
Repeat this to yourself in your mind, “I will get a good sleep” or “I am not a failure” and the panic slowly fades away, and you’ll get through it.
“There are two wolves, the one that wins is the one that you feed the most.”